After David Bowie’s Low and Heroes, the race was on for the first big British electronic hit. Everyone knew it was going to happen, because this was the sound of the future. Who would it be: the Human League, Ultravox, Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark? Nobody expected this to come out of left-field: a slow, almost dirge-y blast of pure teen alienation set in a chill Science Fiction future – or, rather, alternative present – with its intimations of surveillance, gay cruising, and robotic sex. It sounds too much, but Numan sealed it with a perfect, disconnected vocal and a sweeping, whooshing synthetic arrangement. With its two note hook, Are ‘Friends’ Electric? – even the quote marks are of their time – dominated the high summer of 1979.
Are ‘Friends’ Electric? – live on the Old Grey Whistle Test
Are ‘Friends’ Electric? – live on 6Music (with Little Boots)